Piers Morgan, left, and Holly Willoughby.
Piers Morgan has defended Holly Willoughby from criticism following her divisive Phillip Schofield speech.
The co-host of This Morning returned to present the series on Monday (5 June) for the first time since Schofield quit and then admitted to lying about an affair with a much younger colleague.
Addressing the viewers at the start of the show, Willoughby said: “Firstly, are you OK? I hope so.”
Elsewhere in her statement, Willoughby said she felt “shaken, troubled, let down, and worried” for “the wellbeing of people on all sides of what’s going on”, adding: “You, me and all of us at This Morning gave our love and support to someone who was not telling the truth. Who acted in a way that they themselves felt that they had to resign from ITV and step down from a career that they loved. That is a lot to process.”
Willoughby capped her speech by saying: “I think what unites us all now is a desire to heal for the health and wellbeing of everyone. I hope that as we start this new chapter and get back to a place of warmth and magic that this show holds for all of us, we can find strength in each other.”
While a contingent of viewers supported Willoughby, many branded her statement “ridiculous” and accused the daytime series of “self-importance”.
Morgan, who previously said the “relentless persecution” of Schofield should “stop”, has now defended Willoughby, whom he called “a good friend of mine”.
The former Good Morning Britain presenter said on his TalkTV show Uncensored on Monday evening (5 June): “She is in an impossible position. She had to come back contractually and do what she did.”
Morgan added: “It is not funny for her… it’s tough, it’s difficult. You are in an arranged marriage in these situations. I was in one myself and suddenly you are divorced, right?”
He also elaborated on his views of Schofield, addressing his previous interview with the BBC’s Amol Rajan on Friday (2 June).
“I have known him a long time, 35 years,” Morgan, who wrote a biography of Schofield in the Nineties, said. “I looked at the guy and thought, ‘You are completely broken.’”
Morgan said that his “comparison to Caroline Flack was clumsy”, acknowledging that “he probably shouldn’t have said that”.
The broadcaster, however, added: “He properly did feel that he was genuinely, ‘What’s left?’”
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